Tractor Implement Management can increase productivity while reducing operator fatigueSo what is Tractor Implement Management (TIM) and where is it headed?

That was the focus of an Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) Conference Day presentation at last fall’s Plugfest event in Bologna, Italy. AEM is a founding member of the AEF and provides the AEF staff secretary.

The presentation noted that as part of the growing trend towards greater automation in ag equipment, TIM essentially allows the implement to tell the tractor that pulls it what to do.

Using the example of a tractor and a round baler, the sequence of operations necessary to produce one bale is as follows:

  1. Drive and bale
  2. Stop
  3. Activate net wrapping
  4. Open rear gate and drop bale
  5. Close rear gate
  6. Repeat

In a high-yield situation, this sequence would take place every 30 seconds. Operation not only requires a high degree of skill, but also results in an elevated level of operator fatigue.

TIM has the potential to enhance operator efficiency while increasing comfort and ease of use. The implement (the baler) knows the process and its stage through sensors, and takes over control of the process while the tractor provides the power.

Sounds simple, right? But cross-manufacturer automation creates new challenges.

The number one focus of the ag equipment industry is, of course, the safety of operators and bystanders. When TIM is used in a closed system where the tractor and implement are both made by the same company, it’s clear who is responsible when something goes wrong in the field.

However, using one brand of tractor and another brand of implement introduces a new level of shared liability and responsibility. The growing number of products on the market doesn’t allow for one-to-one testing because the matrix is too large.

So other solutions are needed. Namely, the industry needs to ensure that only known and trusted equipment works together. That’s where the AEF comes in.

The AEF has established a TIM project team whose objectives are as follows:

  • Make TIM work as an “open” ISOBUS solution
  • Establish multi-brand ISOBUS automation with “acceptable liability risk”
  • Convert functional safety requirements into technical solutions
  • Define clear processes for all phases of the TIM product life
  • Establish secured and controlled connection of the TIM couple
  • Ensure integration of TIM in service infrastructure

To achieve AEF certification, ISOBUS Automation devices will need to pass a conformance test and demonstrate technical compatibility to ISOBUS and AEF guidelines. In addition, the product has to follow safety standards and related AEF definitions.

AEF will then confirm use of ISOBUS Automation and provide a “digital certificate” that will be integrated in the tested TIM machine.

At first contact of a machine pair, the implement and tractor would check the validity of their respective digital certificates. A positive result on both sides unlocks ISOBUS Automation and the tractor and implement exchange a joined secret key

The joined secret key would be checked on subsequent startups of the machine pair. A positive result on both sides would unlock ISOBUS Automation.

Development of a process to obtain TIM certificates is currently underway, with some parts of the process already tested and proven. Plans for 2017 include:

  • A joint safety review within a different AEF project team
  • Addressing of legal aspects
  • Development of TIM infrastructure by using the AEF database
  • Field testing

The project team’s ultimate goal is translation into an ISO standard.

For More Information

For more information, visit www.aem.org/aef or contact AEM Technical Director Mark Benishek (mbenishek@aem.org, tel: 414-298-4118).

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